How do I win an election?
February 9, 2010 2:22 PM Subscribe
How do I win an election?
I know all about the basics - but I would particularly like more in-depth, advanced information tailored to professionals on how to win.
posted by Despondent_Monkey to law & government (21 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I'm working on a fledgling campaign to support a ballot measure. The initiative enjoys broad support among the 18-29 demographic and solid support among lower-income residents. It also garners bipartisan support - nationally, majorities of both Republicans and Democrats support it. But there's a problem: our enemy's base votes, and our state's elected leaders use the power of their offices and a supplicant media to take potshots against us.
In the first half of the 2000s, this issue was on the ballot and we lost by less than 5 points. Basically, the state Republican leadership mobilized against us even though a majority of Republicans nationally support our issue, and seniors came out against us as well. We didn't rack up a big enough margin in the urban areas to stop the "death by a thousand cuts" margins of the rural counties: minus-100 votes here, minus-234 over there doesn't look too bad, but it adds up quickly.
Our obstacle is the 65+ demographic; this group is an absolute slaughter for us. I don't think we have any chance of persuading more than a handful of these folks, because it's primarily a cultural gap. They always vote, though - so I think the best we can hope for is bad Jello at the retirement center on Election Day or something. Basically, when we focus on turnout, I want these people to stay home - we don't want to inadvertently bring any of them to the polls. I'll be really blunt here: we think we have a shot this time around because our enemy's demographic is dying off and attitudes are changing. But we have to convince more Republicans to get on board and turn out our base.
Unfortunately, the precincts where we won last time with > 70% of the vote are also the precincts that have the lowest turnout. The biggest problem seems to be security apartments - we can't get in there to canvass, but that's exactly where our base lives.
Basically, I have a couple of main questions:
1. The fundamental question I have is this: should I focus my efforts on turning out more of our supporters and changing a few minds on the other side just to staunch the bleeding enough in the enemy areas to win? Or do we win by persuading a lot more people and dealing with the lower average turnout of our base?
2. Should we hire a field professional? How much does a really good pro cost, and can we use him/her on a short-term basis just to get things going?
We don't have an excessive amount of money - our final fundraising total will likely be less than a million dollars. I made some pretty extensive spreadsheets with formulas, so we know where we need to mobilize supporters. Some of us were thinking that a pro might make extensive use of proprietary algorithms or advanced targeting strategies that we couldn't do, but we're not sure.
3. Do we want to conduct a professional poll? We know of some top-notch pollsters, but we need to know if it's possible financially for us to hire them. Of course, none of them list an estimated cost on their websites. Since we know our precincts well and we have our "number" that we need to win, is polling still worthwhile?
4. Does GOTV work as well for an issue campaign as it does for a candidate? Some of us want to run ads and basically repeat our message over and over again, while others don't like that and want to focus entirely on field operations.
Thanks for reading all of this, and if you have any advice or suggestions, I would love to hear it.